By Dave O’Connell – Follow him on Twitter @DaveOCKOP
In the day of modern technology when a player is lauded worldwide instantaneously over a simple piece of skill, I have decided to go back in time to remember one of Anfield’s greats. Elisha Scott’s world-class saves will not be found retweeted on Twitter or turned into Vines. It is only by word of mouth passed on by generation to generation of Liverpool fan that will keep the legacy of this great Northern Irishman alive. Scott was known as the ‘First King of the Kop’, known as Lish to Liverpool supporters who were also his friends. Elisha Scott still holds the title as Liverpool’s longest serving player, and it’s thought that Scott’s name was the first to be chanted from the terraces at Anfield, with ‘Leesha – Leesha’ regularly hollered by the masses.
Born in Belfast on August 24th 1893, Scott initially went to the Liverpool to have a trial with Everton where his older brother played. Luckily for Liverpool a transfer never materialised as the Everton coaching staff felt he was too small. Instead, Scott played for Liverpool over a period of 22 years (1912-1934), making 467 appearances and keeping 167 clean sheets. His first appearance for Liverpool was on New Year’s Day 1913 against Newcastle United. The same club would later make an offer of £1,000 for the rookie’s services…
Scott’s Liverpool career was interrupted during the Great War where he returned home to Belfast to play until it finished. Many fans that were lucky to see him play in the 1920s claim he was the greatest goalkeeper they’ve ever seen. Small in height for a goalkeeper, Scott was known for his agility and cat like reflexes. One reporter at the time wrote: “He has the eye of an eagle, the swift movement of a panther when flinging himself at a shot and the clutch of a vice when gripping the ball.”
Indeed, Scott played for Liverpool during the same period that the great Dixie Dean, his close friend off the pitch, played for arch-rivals Everton. Dean would go on to say that Scott was the greatest goalkeeper he had ever seen or played against. One of the great stories during this period relates to when, prior to the derby game, Scott received a parcel containing some aspirins. In a note to Scott, Dixie Dean wrote ‘Thought you might be needing these today!’ Another great tale tells of when Dean nodded his head in the street before a game, as if to say. “I am going to score a header tomorrow.” Scott responded by diving across the street to save the imaginary effort!
Scott was part of the team that ended a 16 year barren spell of league titles in season 1921-1922. During the two years when the club won and then retained the championship, Scott missed only three matches. On February 21st 1934, Scott made his final appearance for us against Chelsea. After the game, his emotional farewell speech from the directors’ box reduced many present in Anfield to tears. Scott returned to his native Belfast as player/manager of his former club, Belfast Celtic . Retiring in 1936 to concentrate on management, he steered the club to a magnificent 31 trophies before its departure from football in 1949. Elisha Scott died on May 16th, 1959, aged 65.
He’ll never walk alone.